Changing Gears by Greg Foyster

Greg Foyster had a high-flying job in advertising and a steady income, worked in a fancy office and lived in a nice house. Then one day he realised none of that was making him happy. He quit his job and began working as a journalist, writing mainly about sustainability and social issues. The more he wrote, the more interested he became in sustainable living and an alternate lifestyle that could articulate his beliefs. So Greg, along with his partner, Sophie, embarked on a journey, travelling in the most environmental way they could: by bike.

Their trip spanned 6500 kilometres up the east coast of Australia, beginning in Melbourne, down around Tasmania and then all the way up to Cairns. The idea was to stop as they travelled and meet like-minded people, learning new options to make the way they lived more sustainable.

Using the theory that people are generally happier when consuming less, the couple’s journey brings to light myriad ways to be more sustainable in daily life. Of course, they find some extreme cases – for example, a family that produces absolutely everything they use on their farm, right down to their own soap. Or a community that trades with services – like manual labour – instead of cash. But there are also smaller-scale actions, like attending clothes swaps and buying local produce. Greg looks at every situation logically, weighing up the pros and cons and why each way of living may or may not be suitable for a particular lifestyle. Narrating their journey in a lighthearted way, the reams of information Greg relays are nicely balanced by the eccentric characters the couple meet. The pair’s relationship is also a source of entertainment: Sophie is logical and quite good at camping, while Greg is consistent at being a klutz.

Greg presents an informative text that’s an accessible read – the stories throughout the journey are inspiring, and never overwhelming for those who are perhaps not so well versed in all things sustainable and just wish to live more simply.

Ella Mittas is a freelance reviewer.